How Verticals Should Approach IoT Platforms
An IoT application enablement platform like ThingWorx turns the complexity of sensors, networks, and analytics into a utility for the user by abstracting away the details of implementations. As a result, a business wanting to increase its reach and serve its customers more effectively by using the Internet of Things can focus on those specific business goals, where their efforts can have the biggest effect on the value chain.
IoT platforms are unlikely to ever become something like a standardized utility, equivalent to a power or water supply hookup. Every industry will have specific things it is looking most for from a platform, aside from the standard device management, connectivity management, analytics, and other features.
Early movers, and later
Even with available platform support, some industries are closer to IoT implementation than others. For the next few years, the big movers will be those industries that already have a fair amount of “smart” in their devices, such as the microprocessor-based programmable logic controllers (PLC) that have been part of factory, oil field, and power plant machinery, as well as vehicles, for decades, and which continue to grow rapidly.
As a result, the first industries to demand the services of an IoT platform will include fleet management, vehicles, smart grids, smart cities, smart agriculture, and industrial automation.
What should these first-mover industries be looking for in their IoT platform? To gain some insight, it’s worth taking a look at one specific industry, fleet management.
The management of hundreds or thousands of high-value, resource-consuming, capable, geographically dispersed, and risky commercial vehicles benefits enormously from an implementation of M2M telematics. How can a platform make this possible?
Fleet operators need to:
- Optimize routing
- Monitor equipment health, fuel consumption, driver behavior, and location
- Optimize the logistics of parts, supplies, and driver comfort
- Optimize predictive maintenance and asset value
- Extend vehicle useful life as much as possible
- Ensure and report on compliance with environmental, noise, safety, and other regulations
Using data from a variety of vehicle microprocessors, OEM devices, and installed telematics, which may connect through a variety of wide-area networks as the vehicles travel, as well as information about warehouse stocking, geographic fuel prices, weather, customer demand, and other factors, fleet operators have to make both hour-by-hour as well as long-term decisions. Some subset of these decisions and their supporting data will be communicated to business partners, lenders, regulators, and other stakeholders.
A platform to support fleet management
An IoT platform allows the fleet operator to develop algorithms and other business solutions without worrying about the specific equipment and upgrade history of a vehicle, the specificities of a given driver, and the inventory control method of the warehouse.
An application enablement platform with matched analytics, like ThingWorx, can provide the necessary support for fleet management.